Health and Wellness

The only 5 insanely cheap workout items you need to exercise at home, according to fitness trainers

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As gyms and fitness facilities across the U.S. prepare to open, many people are still wondering: Is it a good idea to go back so soon?

Dr. John-Paul Rue, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine doctor at Mercy Medical Center, says he considers it to be "generally safe" — provided that proper guidelines are followed.

But there are some key factors to consider. If you find it difficult to wear a mask while working out (which some gyms will require), for example, it's probably best to hold off. 

"It may be harder for someone with an underlying medical condition, such as asthma, because wearing a mask restricts the movement of air in and out of our lungs," Rue tells CNBC Make It.

Luckily, transforming a corner of your home into a gym can be incredibly simple and cheap. Below, fitness trainers share their favorite exercise equipment to use at home:

(Note: These workouts are not for everyone. If you have a physical condition, health concerns or are currently pregnant, consult with your doctor first.)

A yoga or exercise mat

Yoga by Numbers

Price point: $12.98 and up

A yoga or exercise mat is the most important item you need.

"It sets the stage for where you'll be working out and makes moving on the ground easier," Geoff Tripp, head of fitness science at Trainiac, a personal training app, tells CNBC Make It

If you prefer extra support and comfort, choose a mat that is thicker and has more cushion.

A foam roller

(Photo via: Peter Athans)

Price point: $12.95 and up

This is a versatile and inexpensive piece of equipment that can be used to warm up your body before working out, or as a way to cool down tired muscles after a long session, Peter Athans, a trainer and director of coach development at Noom, a health app, tells CNBC Make It.

Studies have shown that foam-rolling after a high-intensity workout can help improve the range of motion and muscle performance.

"I love foam rollers because they increase circulation in my muscles and connective tissue, which helps reduce any soreness," says Athans.

Rolling calves:

  1. Start by sitting with your legs extended.
  2. Position the roller beneath your right calf and lift your body to rest your weight on the roller.
  3. Slowly roll your calf back and forth on the roller, starting from the knee to ankle.
  4. Do this for 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Switch legs and repeat steps.

A kettlebell

(Photo via: Peter Athans)

Price point: $14.99 and up

Most people are more familiar with dumbbells, but kettlebells (which look like small cannonballs with triangular handles) can be used to mix up your strength-training sessions.

Athans uses a kettlebell for cardiovascular endurance. "It brings added weight plus dynamic function to any workout," he says. "Kettlebells also target every muscle group, take up minimal space and are easy to store."

Kettlebell swings:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place the kettlebell about one foot in front of you.
  2. Gently bend your knees, hinge forward at your hips, push your glutes back and grab the handles with both hands.
  3. Swing the kettlebell down between your legs with your arms extended.
  4. Stand up and thrust your hips forward, squeezing your glutes and letting your arms swing forward to chest-height (but not higher than your shoulders).
  5. Get back into the quarter-squat position. The kettlebell should be between the legs with both arms extended.
  6. Pull the weight back down, hinge at your hips and immediately move into the next rep.
  7. Repeat for desired number of reps.

A jump rope

(Photo via: Twenty20 | Rebekah Maynard)

Price point: $4.80 and up

"Jump ropes are great for warming up before a long workout," says Rue. "You can also mix it into your workout for a burst of cardio to raise your heart rate."

Jumping rope targets your legs, glutes, calves, arms, shoulders and even your core. Common exercises include regular jumps, side-to-side jumps and backward jumps.

Side-to-side jumps:

  1. Hold the jump rope with the handles at your sides and the rope behind your heels.
  2. Rotate wrists to build velocity as the rope swings around your body.
  3. As the rope moves toward your feet, jump with both legs to let the rope pass underneath your feet.
  4. Land to the right of your starting position after the jump.
  5. Repeat the steps above, but now landing to the left of your starting position.
  6. Jump for 60 seconds, then rest for 60 seconds.
  7. Repeat for desired number of repetitions.


(Photo via: Synergee)

Price point: $17.95 and up

These small discs decreases the amount of friction with the ground, making it easier for you to move in different directions. You can either stand on them or put them under your hands (for a more challenging workout).

"Sliders are great for working out your core, so I like using them to do push-ups and knee tucks," says Tripp.

Knee tucks:

  1. Get in a push-up or plank position with each foot (toes down, heels up) on a slider.
  2. Pull (and slide) your knees into your chest and back out.
  3. Do this 10 times, then rest for 60 seconds.
  4. Repeat for desired number of repetitions.

Sara Lindberg, B.S., M.Ed., is a health and fitness expert. She has been featured in HealthDay, The Washington Post, Yahoo Health, Men's Health and Runner's World, among many more. Follow her on Twitter @SaraLindberg13.

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